Salinger: A Biography

Paul Alexander


J.D. Salinger: A Biography offers the first full-length popular account of American literature's great recluse, giving new insights into the author of The Catcher In the Rye. Salinger, was one of the most successful writers of American short fiction---the quintessential New Yorker writer---when he was only in his twenties and thirties. Then, mysteriously, he withdrew from the world, retiring to a cabin in New Hampshire where he practices Zen. Though Salinger has said that he continues to write, he has not published since the early 1960s

Paul Alexander, bestselling biographer and journalist, has carefully researched and masterfully described Salinger the human being and Salinger the icon. He answers the numerous questions that encircle the life and legacy of J.D. Salinger. Why did critics become unreceptive to Salinger's stories as he grew older? Why are the important women in his life so much younger than he? Why does he sometimes seem to be playing peek-a-boo with his admirers? If he truly wants to be left alone, why does he leave so many clues? Why have his books been linked with famously psychotic young people such as the assassin of John Lennon and the would-be assassin of President Reagan?

Alexander draws upon published sources and personal interviews with over forty important literary figures such as George Plimpton, Gay Talese, and Tom Wolfe. He traces the writer's early years living on the periphery of genteel society in Manhattan's Upper West Side. He follows Salinger's failures and successes as a student, his harrowing experiences during World War II, and his romances---including one with teenager Oona O'Neill, who married Charlie Chaplin. He connects Salinger's life to Salinger's work through detailed commentary on his writings, and he gives the only complete overview ever written of the last thirty years of the writer's life-a history of attempts to escape attention combined with a coy desire to remain in the public eye

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